Friday, July 10, 2015

The Three Baritone Saxophone Band

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Sometimes the music on a recording is so engrossing and engaging that I just want you to listen to it rather than have you read about it.

I mean, at some basic level, the music always speaks for itself.

In a larger artistic sense, there is something artificial about trying to describe music in words.

It isn’t always easy to bring the music to you directly for a variety of reasons the most obvious of which is that a blogging platform must be altered to allow for some kind of audio feed so you can hear it.

And then there is the always over-riding issue of copyright restrictions and permissions.

Technical and legal restrictions aside, videos and audio file sharing sites do make it possible to create codes which can then be transferred to blogs, thus allow visitors to actually hear the music.

It all takes a bit of time to develop [always more time than I plan for], but I have been listening recently to The Three Baritone Saxophone Band Plays [Gerry] Mulligan and decided that bringing some of the music on this Dreyfus Jazz CD [FDM 36588-2] to you directly was how I wanted to share it with you.

So I set about putting together the the two videos and one audio-only formats that you see below to make it possible for you to listen to three of the twelve tracks that make up this wonderful recording.

Gerry Mulligan died in 1996 and baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber put together The Three Baritone Saxophone Band Plays The Music of Gerry Mulligan as a sort of tribute to him.

Enlisting the assistance of fellow bari sax players Nick Brignola and Gary Smulyan, the band toured briefly and recorded the Dreyfus Jazz CD in 1997.

Ronnie wrote all of the arrangements and selected Andy McKee on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums to create the rhythmic pulse in a piano-less atmosphere that Mulligan often preferred.

Gerry Mulligan left a huge footprint on the baritone saxophone and I doubt that any player of that instrument in the modern Jazz era has escaped his influence.

Of course, the magnitude of his contributions to Jazz as a composer, arranger and bandleader have few parallels in the history of the music.

I continue to be amazed by the fact that Gerry Mulligan has yet to be the subject of a major biography.

Let’s start with a video on which the Three Baritone Saxophone Band celebrate Gerry’s Theme for Jobim. It’s one Gerry’s most hauntingly beautiful melodies.

This video presents Ronnie, Nick and Gary performing Blueport, which although written by trumpeter Art Farmer, the tune had a close association with the Mulligan Quartet that Art played in from 1958-1960 and later became somewhat of an anthem for Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band in the 1960s.

And finally, an audio-only treatment of the band’s version of Gerry’s classic Five Brothers.


  1. Hi Steven,
    Great article! Here's another link to 3 bari's and mr. Smulyan:
    Best, Rik

  2. Hi Steven,
    Great article! Here's another link to 3 bari's and mr. Smulyan:
    Best, Rik


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